on February 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Perry snatches lead from fellow American Piercy

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Reuters) – American Kenny Perry coolly rolled in a 32-foot birdie putt at the last to grab a one-shot lead after the Phoenix Open third round on Saturday.

Two off the pace overnight at the TPC Scottsdale, the PGA Tour veteran ended a sun-splashed day of ideal scoring conditions with a birdie-birdie finish for a five-under-par 66 and a 12-under total of 201.

Little-known American Scott Piercy, who briefly led by four strokes after piling up eight birdies in the first 13 holes, lost momentum late in the round to card a matching 66 for second place.

South Korea-born Kevin Na, now a U.S. citizen, birdied four of the last six holes for a 66 to lie joint third at 10 under with Americans Brian Gay (67) and Charley Hoffman (69).

Perry, a 12-times winner on the PGA Tour, has been delighted with his form over the last two days after starting the tournament with a one-over-par 72.

“I shot 63 yesterday and today I played beautifully,” the 48-year-old told reporters after a round featuring six birdies and a lone bogey. “I actually felt better from tee to green today than I did the first two days.

“My putter was off,” added Perry, who totaled 31 putts on Saturday after needing just 27 the previous day.

“I left every putt short today for whatever reason until the last hole. But other than that, my birdies were close and short, except on the last hole.”

Eight times out of 15 Perry has gone on to triumph when holding at least a share of the PGA Tour lead after 54 holes.

FEELING GOOD

“To me this is what you work so hard to get to, so it’s nice to have the lead,” he said. “That’s why I really wanted to make that putt on the last hole. I’m hitting it great and I feel good. It’s going to be a fun day tomorrow.”

Piercy, who has played most of his career on the satellite tours in the U.S. since turning professional in 2001, was also largely happy with his display on a low-scoring day.

“I made a couple of bad chips on 14 and 17 which were just stupid but, other than that, it was an impressive day,” the 30-year-old Las Vegas native said after bogeying the 14th, 15th and 17th.

“I hit it pretty much where I was looking and made some putts.”

One of four players tied for the lead early in the third round, Piercy edged a stroke in front after reaching the turn in five-under 30.

He then appeared to tighten his grip by forging four ahead with birdies at the 10th, 11th and par-five 13th, where he reached the green in two and two-putted.

However he bogeyed the next two holes, overshooting the green with his approach at the par-four 14th and hooking his tee shot into water at the par-five 15th.

Piercy, who earned a check for $2 million with victory at the made-for-television, winner-take-all Ultimate Game tournament in Las Vegas in 2007, wasted a golden opportunity to birdie the 16th, narrowly missing a five-footer.

He dropped another shot at the par-four 17th, despite being pin-high right of the green off the tee, and parred the last before being overtaken at the top of the leaderboard by the fast-finishing Perry.

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Martin Petty)